The Star Says: Shoplifting affects every one of us

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The scale of the shoplifting problem in South Yorkshire is truly staggering.

Shoplifters in the area committed 10,345 offences last year, new figures reveal.

In one month alone, traders lost goods worth £162,500, with 1,799 offences reported.

By any stretch of the imagination that is a huge amount of crime which is taking place under the noses of everyone.

Now, in a bid to deter thieves, police chiefs in South Yorkshire have launched a Not The Answer campaign, hoping posters featuring family members behind bars will make people think twice about turning to crime to ease their financial difficulties.

Advice leaflets have also been printed and a dedicated website has been set up featuring information about foodbanks and debt advice services.

It also highlights the penalties for shoplifting, including prison.

While taking into account there may be some people who are driven to shop lift through sheer desperation the crime is by no means new and needs to be treated seriously.

Hopefully the new campaign will work but surely those who shop lift are already aware of the consequences and are prepared to take their chances.

Of course there will be many reasons why people turn to this sort of crime.

In every store the process of buying and paying for your goods is based on a moral, and legal, obligation between the customer and shopkeeper.

It would be anarchy if everyone didn’t accept this simple premise.

The crime affects us all.

Shops pass on the costs of security and stolen stock to customers.

If the costs become prohibitive for business owners then jobs can be lost.

Like the vast majority of crime shoplifting is a selfish act, which benefits the thief and punishes the rest of us.

Security staff have to be vigilant but there is also a responsibility on the rest of us to keep an eye out and report anything suspicious.

Paying close attention to how successful this new campaign is will be businesses who are considering whether to be part of the proposed £480million Sheffield Retail Quarter.

The plans look fantastic but people will only really believe it when they’re walking through it.

It beggars belief that the city is so far behind its competitors so let’s hope the scheme – finally – gets underway.